Hi, this is Jo Berry. My father, Sir Anthony Berry, was killed in the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984. Two days after the bombing, I decided that I would create something positive from the trauma and try and understand the people who killed him. I reached out to Pat 14 years ago after he was released early from prison, and we have developed a friendship and work together to end violent conflict.

I founded the charity Building Bridges for Peace in 2009, which enables divided communities and the general public to better understand the causes of war, terrorism, and violence. We promote dialogue and mediation as a means to peace.

Pat and I plan on attending an upcoming peace conference in Sarajevo, marking the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of WWI. If you can, please contribute to the crowd fund for our workshop so that we can make a difference there.

I have written a Huffington Post article about learning to forgive after losing my father and was honored to give a talk at TEDx about how empathy allowed me to develop a constructive friendship with Pat Magee.

We talk about our friendship in the film Beyond Right & Wrong, which has helped our story reach a global audience. It is available online for free at FilmRaise.com. Every time someone watches the film, $.50 goes to charity on your behalf.

There’s a part in the film where Pat and I are being questioned by a very critical reporter who accuses me of being an apologist for Pat’s crime. He was one of the most difficult people I’ve faced, but I’m sure many people share his views.

There were a few technical difficulties on my first AMA attempt. Thank you to anyone who commented on that thread, I really appreciate it. Please Ask Me Anything.


Edit Thank you for all of your questions today. I have to go now, but will try and answer a few more questions tomorrow.

Comments: 1286 • Responses: 64  • Date: 

looknclick1040 karma

You killed my father, prepare to work with me!

Jo_Berry917 karma

Journeys of healing start with one step and we never know where they will go.

oldforger518 karma

(I think he might have been implying that your name is Inigo Montoya, but I could be wrong...)

Jo_Berry413 karma

Thanks, I missed that! tell me more?

12_Foot_Ninja62 karma


FinalDoom9 karma

One of my good friends' dads was blown up by the unibomber in the 90s (Salt Lake City) and survived. He now does tours from time to time with Kazinski's brother, expousing forgiveness, understanding, and all sorts of peace things. He testified in the case that sentenced Kazinski and put his word in against the death penalty, among other things. It takes some serious strength of mind and character to do things like that.

Jo_Berry3 karma

That is a fantastic story and I have worked with American families who have lost loved ones and are against the death penalty. Thanks for sharing.

bobrees533 karma

What was the process you went through to get to a point where you wanted to understand the people that killed your father? How long did it take?

Jo_Berry673 karma

I decided 2 days after the bomb to go on a journey of understanding and healing and to bring something positive out of it. very early but I was already spiritual and believed in non violence. Of course the actual steps took much longer.

jgandolfi416 karma

What do you think about Gerry Adams being arrested recently?

Jo_Berry451 karma

Oh that is a big question! Right now in Belfast there are so many volatile emotions around, difficult time. I think that when they orchestrated the peace process they needed to work out how to address the past. Without something in place it is very very hard. Without Gerry Adams we would not have the peace we have now. And I know victims want justice. I feel for the sake of peace we have to move on.

jgandolfi144 karma

Thanks for the response, and I agree with you entirely, I hope this can be handled without any violence

Jo_Berry151 karma

Thanks and me too. Are you in Northern Ireland?

jgandolfi151 karma

In the republic, but with friends in Belfast

Jo_Berry166 karma

What is the feeling there? I am also feeling for the Ballymurphy families.

Ulsterman24244 karma

Hi Jo, I hope you come back tomorrow and see my question. I am a young Northern Irishman in my 20's and thankfully I missed most of the Troubles that permeated my parents youth. Until a few years ago.

My Father was hijacked by paramilitaries and beaten within an inch of his life. The Police, in their haste to make some arrests, opened fire with baton rounds despite my Father and others still being held captive. Would you agree with me that the media in Northern Ireland has a habit of contextualising the Troubles as something that is finished? Not only are there survivors of past traumas such as yourself, there are still those harmed every day by hijackings, drug dealing, paramilitary style 'kneecappings', forced enlistment for loyalists and republicans in hardened areas of Belfast.

Sometimes I struggle with forgiving those who hurt him. His pain is a daily struggle, and I spend most days caring for him. I find myself occasionally wishing I could find those who brought this pain on our families. Most of the time though I just feel sorry for them; bringing pain and suffering to someone they have doubtless de-humanised in their minds. But while forgiveness has left me with internal peace, it has not solved the day to day problems of caring for my Dad.

I think a considerable failure of the solution to the 'Troubles' is the lack of an acknowledgement from both communities that for some they never ended. Thanks for your time, I really am touched by your story it gives me hope for the future when I see the pain my Dad goes through and how it holds back the life of himself and those of us around him.

Jo_Berry150 karma

Thank you Ulsterman24 for sharing with me, very touched by your story and honesty. I am so sorry for the pain your Father and your family have gone through. Sounds so scary for you all. I agree it is not finished, the scars, the pain, the wounds are still there and need to be addressed. Also the ongoing violence which you so tragically know about. I hope you get support and help with your caring, you seem so brave. Do you have support? I agree with you about the lack of acknowledgement. Thank you, your sharing has made me feel humbled and so grateful I did this today so I could hear your story.

VickyCollins218 karma

I speak as someone who is in the "next generation" of effects of violence and trauma. My mother's father was killed when she was 18, when a bomb was put on a commercial airliner in 1955 in the U.S. 160 people were instantly killed. I think what is important to know is that trauma takes on a long life - longer than one generation certainly. There were no tools for my mother to deal with this and I was raised with a general malaise that is almost indescribable. The bomb that killed my grandfather had no cause attached to it - other than greed of the bomber - who killed his mother that day for her insurance policy. But the point I'm trying to make is that it's terribly important to deal with these issues of violence whatever their cause and whatever the person's label is - be he terrorist, murderer - freedom fighter - because if they aren't dealt with, these traumas lead very long lives. It's never just one generation. I really appreciate the work you are doing - shining a light on this and showing people a better way may be the most important work of our time.

Jo_Berry184 karma

Thanks for sharing Vicky and I am very touched by your story. You are so right, the trauma goes down the generations and then young people inherit the scars and wounds. I am ending the cycle now so I don't pass it on. How are you doing? If ever you would like a private chat on skype, let me know. Sometimes even having someone listen can help, that is what has helped me so much. We need more tools for people as all around the world young people are feeling the legacy of war and violence from their parents.

VickyCollins90 karma

Thanks Jo - I would very much like to chat sometime. One of the first things I thought when I saw your part in the movie was that - wow, I bet your kids, if you have them, are possibly growing up free. By seeing positive action, and as you said in the movie, something good coming from that soul shocking tragedy. My heart does hurt quite often for next generation survivors - and I know there is something I can do to help with this movement, I just don't know what it is yet.

Jo_Berry76 karma

I would love to talk and listen, great. My daughters are amazing, one has been to Belfast with me and met ex prisoners. She has messages for Pat when she was 7 which were part of a documentary, maybe I can find you the link as it is on line. I know you will know when the time is right!

markeh124 karma

Has he ever apologised? I really don't understand how you resist the temptation to rip his throat out, I fully believe in non violence too but that's why I find the thought of someone taking a loved ones life for their cause truly maddening. How do you feel about the early release of prisoners too? Do you think 14years is enough for killing 5 people?

Jo_Berry317 karma

For me non violence matters most when I feel the pain which wants to hurt someone else, and then to choose non violence. Being committed to non violence means I end the cycle of violence and revenge now and every moment. There are no exceptions. Peace is the way. Yes he has apologised and I supported the early release of prisoners.

Drekkkk113 karma

No question, but I just wanted to say that you really seem like an amazing person.

Jo_Berry111 karma

Thank you, I appreciate you taking time to write such a lovely supportive comment.

ningrim104 karma

How does someone who murdered five people only serve 14 years in prison?

Do you feel that punishment fits the crime?

Jo_Berry354 karma

He was released as part of the Peace Process and I welcomed that because it meant people would stop being killed. I think the best thing is that now he knows he killed a human being, a wonderful human being. Before he met me he did not see human beings in the hotel. He knows he was guilty of demonising the 'other'. This means more to me than prison.

Londonman007bond73 karma

What are your thoughts on Thatcher's response to the attack?

Jo_Berry175 karma

I think she behaved in character. I was never a fan of her politics and remember especially how hard it was when the Hunger Strikers dies and she ignored them.

jenkoski61 karma

I just wanted to tell you thank you Jo. Your story in BR&W & your TEDx talk - all your words about forgiveness and seeing the humanity in others have touched me deeply. Any plans to come to the U.S. to speak?

Jo_Berry62 karma

I was going to come today! But the funds weren't there in time. I would love to come to the USA to speak, that would be amazing. In my mind I am coming soon, where do you live? Thanks for your lovely supportive words.

jenkoski27 karma

Wow - today? Sad it didn't happen! I live near Salt Lake City. Would love to hear more from you - I thought your answer to the agitated reporter (in BR&W) was beautiful - trusting your inner impulse to see his humanity & not using labels to confine anyone. What would you say is the biggest hurdle in delivering your message of forgiveness? (is there some particular aspect of forgiveness that's hard to articulate or most often misunderstood?)

Jo_Berry39 karma

I am sure it will happen! Let's connect away from here and I can keep you ion touch with my USA plans. There are many challenges and I think betrayal is a hard hurdle which isn't often mentioned. I feel we have a inbuilt response which keeps us tribal, keeps us away from the empathising with enemy and to move beyond that I had to face a wall of betrayal in me. When I went through it I found a pool of tears and sadness as I knew then there is no enemy, we are all connected. I am accused of betraying my Dad and though I understand it, I know the only real betrayal is of my heart. Does that make sense!

Jo_Berry17 karma

Thanks for the supportive words with the reporter, he was very challenging and now I will never be able to forget him!

Jo_Berry15 karma

This a huge subject and I will come back to it as would like to answer properly, thanks for sharing and will reply before the end of my day! Thanks for connecting on facebook.

jenkoski11 karma

I think I understand (somewhat). Do you mean we are prone to think in terms of Us vs. Them? I'm wondering if that's a learned response or perhaps a more natural tendency. By wall of betrayal, do you mean that you felt at first you would be betraying yourself if you forgave him? It seems you discovered (by going through that wall) that the opposite was true? - that we really only betray ourselves by not forgiving?... (sorry to be putting words in your mouth, I'm just re-stating to see if I understand.) I struggle with the idea of connection. I have felt it, on occasion (that we're all connected, that no space intervenes) but the feeling I have of separation from others is stubbornly persistent and feels very real at times, though I try to remember it's not true. Betrayal would be a great topic to explore further - I would love to hear more of your thoughts about it. That, and "there is no enemy" - that's a very profound discovery. [I will try to connect with you on facebook, I'm Jennifer Poff Koski there.] Thank you for taking time today to answer questions. You and your amazing story are a gift to us. The world needs to hear you!

Jo_Berry16 karma

Exactly we are prone to thinking us and them. I think it is learned response and we have the potential to change it. I thought I would be betraying my Father if I saw the enemy as a human being. But yes I would be betraying myself if I didn't see his humanity. I think it is daily work to emotionally live this truth, for the learned response comes back! Well it does for me and so the work has to carry one very day. I love feeling that connection and living the truth there is no enemy, and I need to be gentle with myself for the times when I am back into the us and them thinking. I look forward to talking more. Thank you for your deep comments and support.

PayAttentionThisTime43 karma

Have you ever been threatened by an organization(Terrorist or otherwise)?

If so how many times and how did you respond?

Also you said you reached out to pat first. How did he first react to you reaching out to him?

Jo_Berry66 karma

I was once threatened back in 1985 by someone who had their child murdered. They were angry with me because I was talking about forgiveness. I understand that kind of rage and pain. Pat wanted to meet me as he felt it was part of the peace process to be talking with former enemies and victims of his violence.

VickyCollins38 karma

Everyone says they want peace and they believe in peace and they hope there's peace "one day", but I don't believe we will ever have peace as long as we continue to outsource it to others. It can't be somebody else's job. So if we want peace, we have to do the work ourselves. We are our only solution here. It starts with forgiveness because that opens the door to love. The act of "not forgiving" is an act of violence in and of itself. I am grateful you had the courage to do it and now you have the freedom many others do not, for probably far lesser offenses. My guess is that you feel very peaceful and free. What all of us can learn here, is that if you can do it, so can everyone else. What other choice do we have if we want a better outcome? Thank you Jo.

Jo_Berry29 karma

Oh yes, we can only change ourselves! You are so right we are the solution. Thanks Vicky for understanding and your support. I still work on my need to blame and my fear, I transform all my feelings and it is daily work. When I feel pain I take responsibility, feel it and let it go. Sometimes it is easier than others. Sometimes I am not nice to others and then I have to forgive myself, I am still learning! But I do feel content and have the inner resources now which were lacking when I was younger. I think we can all do it with the right resources and support.

robredd32 karma

How does the rest of your family feel about what you are doing?

Jo_Berry61 karma

They are very supportive though have no need to meet him.

HolographicMetapod25 karma

Can you explain a little bit about to us why you would even be interested in working with the man that killed your father? Wouldn't you rather get some revenge on him?

Why would he deserve this?

Jo_Berry112 karma

I know if I had gone down the revenge route I would have just hurt myself and lost some of my humanity. When I met him, I listened to him and he said he was disarmed by the empathy I gave. if I had blamed him he would have stayed in his position of having a political justification. If together we can demonstrate the legacy of violence, the importance of dialogue then that must be better.

ladyjughead20 karma

How comfortable is your relationship with Pat? Any insights you can give into this relationship?

Jo_Berry39 karma

I am very comfortable with him now,I trust him and enjoy being with him. He always listens to me and respects my thoughts and feelings. It is an unusual friendship because of what happened but I do see him as my friend.

ladyjughead21 karma

Thank you for your reply. And I have to say, you are an amazing person to be able to do this. I will remember this and I will remember your humanity and ability to empathize whenever I feel angry at others' actions.

Jo_Berry20 karma

Thank you too, great question and wonderful supportive comment.

goligaginamipopo18 karma

What can be done to educate the English people more about the crimes their state commits in their name? How do you think people will become more aware of the state violence that is allowed to occur in their name?

Jo_Berry24 karma

Good question and point! I always do what I can and when I speak, share the complexities and the stories of violence from the state. I right now am feeling for the Ballymurphy families who have had their re examination rejected. I do find that people here are open and expect it is depending on which newspaper they read. I know there is also far to go. Do you have any ideas?

SwordsToPlowshares17 karma

Do you have any religious beliefs?

Jo_Berry67 karma

No, not religious, I believe in the humanity we all have and share which is love.

calmwhilestormy17 karma

I am curious as to why you refer to him as a terrorist after working closely with him. Is the understanding of his cause as a 'freedom' fighter not swayed your opinion on whether he is a terrorist or not?

Jo_Berry24 karma

I do not use the label terrorist unless it is to identify where the journey started, I see the many beyond the label and that is important to me. I think labels like terrorists keep the dehumanisation happening. Great question! Thanks

emk463016 karma

I understand the forgiving of a soldier for an act of war. How is an attack on a civilian hotel ever justifiable? I guess how can it ever receive retribution?

Jo_Berry46 karma

We would all have our answers on that. I think violence is never justified and I am against war BUT I can understand those who use violence and that includes Pat Magee. We all have the potential to be violent as well as to be peaceful. We need to change our culture to one of peace and peacebuilding which is where I think we are heading.

TurnsBeerIntoWater37 karma

I guess how can it ever receive retribution?

It shouldn't, that's the point.

The NI peace process shouldn't be about revenge or retribution.

Jo_Berry33 karma

I agree well said! The NI peace process should not be about revenge or retribution!

mywan14 karma

How do you feel about the goals of those who killed your father then and now?

Jo_Berry25 karma

I feel that is a shared responsibility to make sure everyone has avenues for dialogue and that is tragic that so many people were killed and wounded, scarred and bereaved. I have listened to many men who have used violence to achieve their goals and the goals are understandable. Pat Magee says he now knows he could have sat down and had a cup of tea with my Dad, how much better that would have been!

pankaj101014 karma

You are founder of a charity which you mentioned make people better Understand Cause of war, terrorism. Can you explain me in brief how would you do that

Jo_Berry25 karma

When Pat and I speak together Pat shared why he decided to use violence and his thinking at that time. This then inspired a conversation wherever we go about why people go to war and use violence. There may be different labels but the roots are similar.

Jo_Berry16 karma

We also facilitate workshops and create safe places for stories to be heard. I believe we learn when we hear people's stories.

pankaj101013 karma

I would really appreciate if you guide me to understand why people get into terrorism. wars. murders etc. How can I get in touch with you?

Jo_Berry18 karma

Through my web site, www.buildingbridgesforpeace.org, my email is [email protected] Thanks.

maispourquoi12 karma

Thanks so much for doing this, I lived in Belfast and studied the Troubles in college and your story really touched me.

What is your ultimate vision of what you want your country to become? What steps do you think need to be taken to get there?

Jo_Berry19 karma

Thank you! My vision is for the world for I believe humanity heals together and whilst there is suffering somewhere else I care. I would love if everyone lived in the world without war and violent conflicts, without hating and fearing the enemy. So that we would live together respecting your needs as well as mine and being able to listen to each other. For this to happen our basic needs would have to be met, such as food, land, water, housing, safety. A long way to go I know!

N0gai11 karma

100 year anniversary of the end of WWI

*begin, I guess?

I'm really impressed how you managed to not fall into endless rage... It would be great if more people would followed your example.

Jo_Berry14 karma

Thanks and yes you are right changed it now. Endless rage woiuld have messed up my life completely, luckily I knew I had a choice. Thanks for your supportive comment.

whyalwaysm36 karma

I'm a former survivor of the ethnic cleansing done in Bosnia by Serb forces during the war in the 1990s. I lost family as well as my home and had to watch my parents suffer. I have a lot of rage inside me and though I understand not every Serbian is like those who committed disgusting acts during the war I still find myself secretly disliking them. As someone who's child hood was ruined by these people I find it hard to forgive. But thanks to your AMA and people like you, I hope to one day be able to see it through your perspective. You're an outstanding human being, we could all learn from you.

Jo_Berry3 karma

I just saw this and wish I had seen your comment earlier. Thanks so much for sharing and my heart goes out to you, you endured so much and I am so sorry you were robbed of your childhood and saw so much suffering. I understand your rage, it is a natural response to what you experienced and I imagine still experience. I expect you have been offered no support or given any resources to support and facilitate your healing? I was in Bosnia last month and shocked at the depths and extent of the suffering and how little resources there are for supporting people. I am hoping to go to the Peace Event in Sarajevo in June and hope it will open doors so i can do more work in Bosnia. I, if you would like, would love to meet up and listen to your story. In my experience when we are listened to in a non judgemental way, it can help enormously. Let's stay in touch and I send you all my support, thank you, you have touched me deeply.

G_O_O_C_H10 karma

Wow. What a premise for an AMA. I was visiting Northern Ireland for the first time last week, so this issue is particularly fresh in my mind. Thanks for taking our questions.

Has your friendship with Pat put stress on any of your other friendships? Are there people who oppose your association with him?

Jo_Berry15 karma

Great, where were you? There are people who find my friendship with Pat challenging and I understand that. I have a very close family and friends so I am fine.

robredd9 karma

It's almost unimaginable to me that you have the strength to show empathy for someone who caused you so much pain.

I think most of us have trouble showing empathy for the real and perceived slights and wrongs we experience in our everyday lives. Even if we succeed in individual instances, maintaining a loving attitude day to day can be difficult as we face the stresses of our daily lives.

Thank you so much for providing such a powerful example of what can be with an open mind and heart.

Jo_Berry10 karma

Thank you for your supportive lovely words! it is difficult I agree! I still have a response to blame when I am hurting especially when I am stressed. For me it is daily work and I am always learning. I have wonderful friends who support me and help me to choose empathy. Sometimes I have to feel the anger and pain before I can reach the empathy, it is a process.

Rozena38 karma

How are you?

Jo_Berry14 karma

Very happy, loving all the questions!

szzszx7 karma

I would love to visit Belfast someday, is it safe?

Jo_Berry13 karma

Very safe, I love visiting there. The people are warm and friendly, you will have a good time.

CapricornAngel7 karma

How has not having your father in your life transformed you?

Jo_Berry13 karma

I believe all that has happened in my life has transformed me, that has been my focus and choice. I want to learn from all the experiences I have had. Losing my father in that way started a journey of transformation, now I feel I am transforming my painful feelings into action for peace.

pankaj10107 karma

How did you feel when you first came to know pat planted a bomb which killed your father

Jo_Berry10 karma

When I knew my Dad was dead I was devastated, shocked, my world crashed, traumatised and could hardly function.

pankaj10108 karma

When you came to know that Pat did it what did you feel that time About him. What made you like him.

Jo_Berry21 karma

He was arrested about a year later and I felt nothing at the time. Then he was released in 1999 as part of the Peace process and I saw him coming out of the prison and I remember feeling angry he is free now but my Dad can never come back. Then I thought but this is for peace and I welcome this. Then I met him in 2000 and I saw his humanity.

j_tello6 karma

Was he IRA

Jo_Berry8 karma


Fardle4 karma

I saw your TED talk live, it was amazing. Standing ovation was wholly deserved.

Thank you for making something out of this whole terrible tragedy.

Jo_Berry7 karma

Thank you so much, wow you were at TEDx Exeter! I will never forget the reception and how amazing it felt, thanks for finding me here.

VickyCollins2 karma

are you on now?

Jo_Berry3 karma

Yes, I am here!

pankaj10102 karma

If you were told by your good friends to stay away from Pat or stay away from them. What you could have done in this situation?

Jo_Berry5 karma

I would listen and then make a decision which was right for me.

pankaj10103 karma

Thanks for your replies Jo. You ability to forgive is amazing. All the best. Have a good life

Jo_Berry4 karma

Thank you and I wish you a happy fulfilling life.

Newn3rd1 karma

How's it like working with the other side?

Jo_Berry8 karma

There are no sides, we are all human beings.

colandercalendar2 karma

That is a good answer.

Jo_Berry1 karma


jcspring2012-2 karma

Given that your father was a political figure for a country that was occupying another country, following several hundred years of genocide murder and oppression, I don't think its appropriate to refer to his killers as terrorists.

Your father was complicit in crimes against humanity and was a legitimate target. His killers were not terrorists.

Jo_Berry8 karma

I agree and do not like to use the label terrorist.

Yawningmane-3 karma

It's time to be brave little angel.

Jo_Berry1 karma

Always time to take risks and be brave!

ConradBHart42-4 karma

When will your grand scheme come to fruition, and are you going to sell tickets?

Jo_Berry2 karma

If we had peace on our planet we would all be celebrating.

crashbangboomerang-7 karma

Pat is a big time piece of shit to have killed your father over some political shit and then look you in the eyes everyday. Fuck pat. Big time. Fuck pat

Jo_Berry1 karma

It has made you very angry?

crashbangboomerang-9 karma

Yeah, I wouldn't kill some guy - and then go be batman and robin with his son. Pat needs to look in the mirror. Bet he's a selfish prick. It's always "pat pat pat" with pat. He should change his name to Peter. It's a start...

Jo_Berry4 karma

I am my Dad's daughter and we all need to look in the mirror. I am sure you wouldn't have behaved in the same way as Patrick, we all have our own challenges. I have now changed his name!

Ikinhaszkarmakplx2-12 karma

Irish car bomb?

Jo_Berry0 karma

Do you mean how was my Dad killed? It was a bomb in a hotel where the British Government were staying.

derlich-21 karma

Do you think your father's proud that you're working with the man who murdered him? Also, how big a spineless asshole are you?

Jo_Berry10 karma

Yes I think my Dad would be proud! You sound angry?